Rumsfeld: surprise Iraq visit

10/01/2019 Posted by admin

He said the United States also opposed any move to delay the political schedule in Iraq, which includes drafting a new constitution by mid August and national elections next December.

He noted a legal provision allowed for a delay of up to six months in writing a new constitution before the next round of elections but said the US would oppose such a move.

“If someone wants to hang around waiting for perfection in this business, you are unlikely to find it. And you are never going to have a political process,” he said.

It is Mr Rumsfeld’s ninth visit to Iraq since the March 2003 invasion and comes as the U.S. military is expected to begin cutting the number of troops in the country next year.

“The presence of (US) security forces is not going to be something that is going to go on forever,” he told reporters travelling with him aboard his military transport plane from Washington.

However he would not elaborate on how soon the 140,000 US troops based in Iraq would begin leaving.

Carrying a clear message from the US administration, Mr Rumsfeld said he would hold talks in Baghdad with Iraq’s new Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari and President Jalal Talabani.

Despite the elevation of moderate leaders as major figures in the new transitional government last week, political factions in Iraq are reportedly jockeying for power.

Mr Rumsfeld said decisions such as government appointments in ministries should be for the good of Iraq and not based on party loyalties or retribution.

“It’s important that the new government be attentive to the competence of the people in the ministries and that they avoid unnecessary turbulence,” he told reporters.

“We have an opportunity to continue to make progress politically, economically … anything that would delay that or disrupt that as a result of turbulence, or lack of confidence or corruption in government, would be unfortunate,” he said.

Mr Rumsfeld’s visit came as two suicide car bomb attacks were mounted at the entrance of a US military camp in the western Iraqi town of Qaim and an American contractor was kidnapped near Baghad.

US forces at the Qaim bombing site were not immediately available for comment, but an official at the hospital in Qaim said two civilians were killed and three were wounded.

Witnesses said the Qaim incident occurred as a car rammed into a checkpoint outside the camp and detonated before reaching the gate. US and Iraqi troops were rushing to help the wounded when a second bomber raced up and blew up his car, they said.

In Baghdad few details were available about the missing US contractor. “No group has claimed responsibility. We have contacted the Iraqi authorities to try and find him,” said embassy spokesman Bob Callaghan, adding the contractor was working on a reconstruction project.

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